Friday, September 29, 2023

The Security Council’s resounding rejection of the Russian humanitarian proposal for Ukraine

The UN Security Council, the usual scene of gigantic diplomatic failures, experienced this Wednesday one of those parody moments that mark its history. Russia, the country of the invading army that bombs hospitals, maternity hospitals, kindergartens, or residential buildings, assumed the role of the arsonist who washes his hands and asks others for help to put out the fire he has caused. Yes, without assuming any responsibility. The fault lies with the bombed, according to his philosophy.

The humanitarian aid proposal that Russia presented to the executive body of the United Nations, with the support of three countries that are not in the Council – Belarus, North Korea, and Syria – suffered a resounding defeat. He only got two votes, Russia’s own and China’s, which changed its position and gave its support. The other thirteen members abstained. To go ahead with a proposal, at least nine votes in favor are needed and the five permanent members (the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia) do not exercise the right of veto.

The text presented by the Moscow delegation requested help, access, and protection for citizens in Ukraine, but did not mention Russia’s role in the crisis with its invasion at all, nor did it call for a ceasefire, which is the main cause of the pain, the displacement of a quarter of the population of Ukraine and how to protect people.

“Russia is only trying once again to use this Council to provide cover for its brutal action in Ukraine. It is inconceivable that Russia would have the gall to ask the international community to resolve the humanitarian crisis that Russia alone has created,” the US ambassador said. Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “It is obvious that Russia is not concerned about the deterioration of the humanitarian condition of millions of people and dreams that the war has shattered. In one month it has created one of the fastest humanitarian catastrophes in the world. If it cared, it would stop the war,” he insisted.

The Security Council's resounding rejection of the Russian humanitarian proposal for Ukraine

Russian ambassador Vasili Nebenzia accused the Western bloc of renouncing the humanitarian aid contained in its resolution with the sole intention of “politicizing” the issue.

“If Russia is concerned about the humanitarian situation, what it has to do is stop bombing children and end the stalking tactics. But it doesn’t,” replied British representative Barbara Woodward. This ambassador was surprised by China’s turnaround, which had opted for abstention in all the votes.

Nebenzia, after withdrawing the proposal last week due to the more than sung failure, decided to present this draft with the sole pretense of arguing that Russia is the only country that has tried something like this and to counteract the Western proposal, drawn up by France and Mexico, which is expected to vote this Thursday in the General Assembly.

Unlike the Security Council, the vote of the plenary has no legal value and only contains a moral charge. Earlier this month, a qualified majority of members, 141 countries in all, voted for a resolution condemning Russia for the invasion. And everything remains the same, or worse.

The General Assembly to debate the humanitarian proposal already started this Wednesday and revealed the division that exists within the UN, which has been brewing since France and Mexico chose to withdraw their proposal from the Council, knowing that, if approved, Russia would veto it, and they preferred to take it to plenary.

Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsiya told the debate that the UN should not be a group of “bystander nations that blur responsibilities, trivialize murder and make the murderer anonymous.” He insisted: “We don’t fall victim to Stockholm syndrome over coffee with a serial killer (in the halls of the UN), do we?” Thus he urged support for a resolution sponsored by “dozens of countries.”

Nebenzia followed in speaking time, speaking of “another anti-Russian show” when referring to the Franco-Mexican draft. “It is a politicized action within a supposedly humanitarian context,” she remarked. And I warn that this proposal “is going to complicate the search for a solution in Ukraine by hardening the positions of the Kyiv government, which are not realistic, nor do they respond to needs.”

The Russian ambassador spoke of the initiative that he would present to a vote hours later in the Council and, in this context, he praised the project of South Africa, which at that time intended to present another humanitarian resolution in the General Assembly, the text of which lowers the criticism of Russia. Nebenzia assured that this position was very close to hers.

This dissonance does nothing but results in the little credibility of the United Nations to resolve conflicts given the perennial separation of geopolitical blocs and the maintenance of the veto system enjoyed by the five permanent countries of the Council. The discrepancies in the international scene are there. Ukraine, like before others, pays the consequences.


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